IFAT Industry Insights

Non-revenue water in Africa

Host Sylvain Usher got to the heart of the problem with just a few sentences. Africa does not suffer from water shortage, he concluded. “The problem is that the water does not reach the consumer because of many leaks or illegal discharges,” the Managing Director of the African Water Association (AfWA) complained. Therefore, the fight against non-revenue water is one of the central concerns of African water management.

Concrete example: the company Hermann Sewerin GmbH set up a training program for locals in Burkina Faso, West Africa, for them to learn more about ground microphones and how to use them. With the help of this technology it is possible to precisely detect leaks in pipes. “During this technically demanding training, we taught the participants what technology to apply for certain problems,” explained Michael Kersting from Sewerin GmbH. The Gütersloh-based family-owned company, which specializes in gas and water supply, carried out this project as part of a major strategic alliance on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, in which the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) was also involved.

Water Leaks Africa
Water losses in the capital of Malawi, for example, account for 37 percent. Shutterstock, Noyna Nanoy

Police search for “water thieves”

Gustaff Chikasema reported on a four-year program to prevent water losses in the capital of Malawi in Lilongwe in Southeast Africa, which is supported by the Japanese government. One of the main problems is the illegal discharge of water. Chikasema said that they were trying to find and convict the culprits with the help of the police. Overall, the head of the “Lilongwe Water Board”, the local water supplier, said that the non-revenue water in the Malawian capital accounts for around 37 percent. For comparison: in Hamburg, water losses are around four percent.

Water losses can be better detected in designated zones

Another case study was introduced by Cornelis de Jong. Consulaqua Hamburg GmbH carried out this study in 2019 in cooperation with the local company Wasco on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, where water losses are estimated to be as high as fifty percent. Basically, the results obtained there can also be transferred to Africa. Saint Lucia was divided into a network of Distribution Zones (DZ), which in turn are composed of several smaller District Metered Area" (DMA). According to de Jong, the DMAs allow the inflow and outflow of water to be precisely determined. Thus, water losses can be quantitatively recorded to minimize or completely eliminate them in the next step.

Organization: German Water Partnership e.V. and African Water Association (AfWA)

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